top of page

Chrysanthemums and poems

Updated: Jun 5

Some poems are immortal. Life and chrysanthemums are brief. We hope for writings that have some duration.


A Poem Not for You

--- Keith Holyoak


This poem’s not for you—it marks some long

forgotten love, over years ago,

buried beneath a song—

Da da, Da da, Dada Dada Daa,

right hand solo, faster, faster, slow.

Half-heard ephemera

revive the past, nine notes dispel amnesia—

I’m listening while you’re playing Für Elise.


Snowflakes, like shooting stars dissolving, streak

your long black hair. In Michigan midwinter,

this night when earth lies bleak,

we kiss, hold hands, and laugh our way uphill

to reach a campus lounge, then boldly enter—

deserted, warm, and still.

There at the back, almost lost in shadow,

swathed in silence, stands a grand piano.


Your fingers dance on keys that stir the air

with chords that paint how beauty lit by love

burns hotter in despair;

and I beside you dare to dream of when

I’ll bring you home a baby grand that you’ve

picked out yourself, how then

as we grow old, our memories interwoven,

I’ll share your bench and hear you play Beethoven.


Some of that dream we lived. And there was more—

palm trees, night-blooming jasmine, azure sky

above a sunlit shore.

Piano of your own, that much came true—

except you mainly played alone, and I—

wrote poems, not for you.

And yet—is love erased once we’re pretending?

Must joy be overwritten by its ending?


To the Man Who, On My Way to a Performance of Aida, Asked Where I Was From and If I Were Visiting

  ---- Joanna Sit


yes       I am

as all of us are     I am

visiting this planet     I am

just a traveler between dimensions and I am

an extra in this movie

a tourist in this life and I am

on my way from aria to aria looking for


the perfect melody a perfect world where I was

once a star with wings to dazzle the natives

an alien with a glinting new blade in my teeth

come to check out how the other half lives     I am

a quiet guest whose presence is tenuous

whose absence is perennial      I am


here to bring a new world order to an under-

developed nation, and I am passing

through a land dressed in blood and stone

taking pictures, prisoners, notes from the field


bringing the story back, reporting on the misfortune

of the exile and her futile reach for love

and when I am finished with my tour

I would become that small note drifting

from Aida’s luxurious velvet throat      I would be

the appoggiatura sliding into mortal air at the start

of “O Terra, Addio,” a sound written in secret

illustrated by starlight   where I’m just visiting


---- Joanna Sit

Eating Bitterness

“…a term that roughly means to endure hardships, overcome difficulties, and forge ahead” –

UC Press Blog, Feb. 27, 2019

When the king was captured and made a slave

a groom for the war horses, he slept on straw

When one of the horses died, he cut out the gall

and hung it above his pallet. Every night for the next

ten years he licked the dangling organ before sleep

to remember and to dream the humiliation of his defeat

In the meantime, his people worked to retake the king-

dom by training soldiers and fortifying weapons. One such

weapon they offered to the conqueror was an empire-shattering

beauty, a girl so gorgeous, it was said, that the fish, so dazzled

by her reflection in the pond, forgot how to swim. It was

also said that the conqueror, so intoxicated by her pulchritude

built a musical staircase to set the mood by the melody

lightly ascending as her nimble feet climbed to his chamber, to his bed

which he then rarely left because she was in it. Ten years later

when all was arranged, the servant-king rose from his pallet

fortified by now the unending taste of bile, retook his kingdom

from the besotted emperor who, unmoored by his splendiferous

prize still would not let go of her hand as the saber ran him through

Yet despite that heavy romance, it was never about the man who loved

and ended with nothing. It was always about the winner

who suffered and took all – all we were

made to know was the profit of eating daily bitterness

and the fruit that patience would bear. So if anyone ever wondered

about the Chinese, it would help to know the kind of vengeance

written in our bones


Recent Posts

See All

Chrysanthemum blooms

This hopefully will become a reader-participant site. Give us your ideas and tell us what you want to see and read here. Thank you for your input.


bottom of page